Innovation That Matters

Labs in space | Photo source pixabay

Scientists can now rent miniaturised and automated labs in space


Switzerland-based startup offers rentable end-to-end automated equipment for conducting experiments in space.

Outer space isn’t just for exploration. We’ve seen how startups are helping astronauts bake bread and farm in orbit. Now, SpacePharma is enabling scientists to conduct remote experiments beyond our planet’s atmosphere.

SpacePharma has developed a modular, miniaturised laboratory that has the capability to control remotely. Called the ‘lab-on-a-chip’, the equipment can study a wide range of fields, from cells to fluid dynamics once modified. Research conducted through automated processes or controlled remotely by users, using a web-based platform will enable control in near real time. Scientists will be able to use this to conduct experiments in microgravity (near weightlessness). This may lead to new discoveries not possible on Earth’s gravity.

The lab-on-a-chip then launches into near space. SpacePharma is working with a number of partners to achieve this. The International Space Station (ISS) will provide space for SpacePharma’s labs. They will be carried up and back on manned missions, so long as the substances are safe. Alternatively, labs can be launched on tiny ‘nanosatellites’. SpacePharma will either piggyback other nanosatellite launches or use their own solar powered satellite, called DIDO.

SpacePharma is seeking both private and publicly funded collaboration opportunities. It will help consult on grant application processes and research optimisation techniques. Commercial partners can pay 230,000 USD upfront for a lab-on-a-chip launch. Partners won’t have to give intellectual property rights for their research. However, should researchers make a significant discovery with a lab-on-a-chip, SpacePharma will receive a proportion of the royalties for future revenues.




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